I’ve got something of a soft spot for the Lethal Weapon series, but man, author Walter Chaw just rips into it, and the results make for a pretty hilarious read (also sadly, true.) Chaw really hammers the buddy cop series undercurrent of sexism, racism and misogyny, such as in Lethal Weapon 4:
Murtaugh “adopts” an entire Chinese family he finds on a cargo boat, telling Riggs he did it because he wishes someone had done the same for his family back when they were slaves. There’s so much wrong with that, I can’t begin to tell you. Consider, too, that the way Murtaugh treats this family, how he knows they’ve been kidnapped by the sudden absence of Chinese-food smell in the house, is as dismissive and perfunctory as the evil Celestial villains who use them as hostages in some obscure plot.
Or consider Rika, Mel Gibson’s love interest in Lethal Weapon 2:
She’s a male fantasy, in other words–one of the ugly ones; I was reminded more than once of that scene from the same year’s Great Balls of Fire where Jerry Lee tells his child bride that she don’t move like a virgin. Dragged along and pushed around, Rika squeaks stupidly, flutters attractively, and perishes so that our hero can manufacture outrage at blonde Betty Boop’s passing, thus justifying all the sadistic bloodshed to come.
Chaw later summarizes a lot of the commentary tracks from director Richard Donnor. It’s not pretty:
The track is indicated by extended periods of silence, with Donner occasionally apologizing, “SORRY, I’M WATCHING THE MOVIE AND I’M REALLY ENJOYING IT!” You can imagine him at the early buffet, yelling at the soup. He’ll also take pains to trainspot the bumper stickers littered throughout: “WHAT’S THAT ONE? DOLPHINS? HAHA!” He misses no opportunity to praise the genius of Glover and Gibson, and, yes, he will sometimes stop and ask Hoffman what a character has said. If you can suffer through all of it, that will make two of us.
Read the whole article. It’s long, but well worth it.